Your bills are too high! And for what? Because you’re hesitant to live on less money? Living on less doesn’t mean living on the bare minimum. It doesn’t even mean skimping on the stuff you like.
Living on less means being strategic with your spending. It means cutting the expenses you don’t want (like forgotten subscriptions that continue to charge you monthly). It means earning cash back on the stuff you buy all the time.
Time to streamline your money. Follow these tips to make “living below your means” a lot easier.
1. Don’t Spend So Much On Food
If you’re trying to save money, you must eat out less. Food from the grocery store is expensive as it is. When you eat out, you pay for the preparation, the service, the rent for the building, management salaries, and you still have to leave a tip. It is a money-suck!
You can cook way better food at home. Don’t believe me? Try this: search Google for your next recipe. Try typing in “french toast recipe” or any other recipe you’re interested in. The first result will be the best. That’s because in order for a recipe to get to the top of Google, it needs lots and lots of 5-star reviews.
When you use Google as your recipe book, I promise you that you will start cooking the best food you’ve ever tasted. Seriously, try it. You’ll save money.
Ibotta – Cash Back on Groceries
Food from the grocery store is still super expensive? So how do you save? Try the free Ibotta app that pays you to buy groceries. Open the app, snap a picture of your grocery receipt, and Ibotta will transfer money into your Ibotta account.
To grow your savings, deposit that Ibotta money directly into your bank account. Or get a free Gift Card to Amazon or Walmart.
⬇ Check out even more ways to save money with Ibotta in our Ibotta explainer video below! ⬇
Download Ibotta because it’s easy to use, and because it’s the highest paying ‘cash back on groceries’ app around. You’ll also receive a $20 welcome bonus just for using the app.
*COVID-19 Hack: Since you’re cooking at home, you’re probably buying more groceries than ever. Ibotta saves you money on groceries nearly every grocery trip. Grab your receipt, snap a pic, and earn cash back. (You’ll get a $20 welcome bonus just for using the app.) Another tip if you’ve been having your grocers delivered: Ibotta will give you 2% cash back on your Insacart delivers. So you’ll save on the delivery fee, and you still get to take a picture of your receipt to earn more cash back.
Update 03/23/20: Ibotta has cash-back offers on grocery and restaurant delivery services:
– DoorDash– $2.50 Cash Back on your first order
– Instacart– 2% Cash Back
– Grubhub– 10% Cash Back for new customers, 2% Cash Back for existing.
– Blue Apron– $12.50 Cash Back for new subscribers
– Home Chef- $10 Cash Back for new subscribers
Download the free Ibotta App here (and grab this $20 Welcome Bonus for trying it out)
2. Dosh – Automatic Cash Straight To Your Phone
Dosh is simple. When you swipe your card (debit or credit), you earn cash back automatically. There are no receipts to scan and no offers to redeem. Simply spend money on your card, and Dosh collects free money in the background.
How does this work? The Dosh app securely connected to your debt/credit card. When Dosh recognizes that you swipe your card at their partnered cash-back locations, you earn money.
That means when you checkout at Walmart, Target, or Sam’s Club, Dosh automatically collects cash back:
Use Dosh to grow your savings. Deposit your Dosh Cash directly into your bank account. You will also collect a $1 Welcome bonus just for connecting your card.
*COVID-19 Hack: As of 4/22/20, Dosh is offering 4% cash back at Safeway and 4% cash back at Vons when you order your groceries online. Create your free Dosh account here to earn easy money on groceries through the Dosh app, and grab a $1 welcome bonus! (Pro tip: use Dosh and Ibotta together to earn more free money)
Related: Want ALL the details on the Dosh app? Check out our full Dosh App Review.
3. Trim – Stop Getting Ripped Off
Are you getting gouged on your internet bill? The sad truth is that you likely are. Internet companies don’t have fixed rates on their internet speeds. They charge as much as they can on a per-customer basis.
That’s why the Trim app exists. Trim saved their users over $1M in the last month alone by lowering their internet, phone, cable, and medical bills. They are bill-negotiation experts.
When you get the Trim app, a Trim team member will call your internet service provider and negotiate a lower bill on your behalf. They do absolutely everything, and you collect the savings.
Test Trim’s Bill Negotiation Service for free. They will immediately get to work negotiating your internet, phone, cable, and medical bills.
If Trim is unable to save you money, their services won’t cost you a cent. However, If Trim does successfully negotiate a lower bill, you keep 66% of your savings the first year, and 100% of your savings every year after.
Lower your bills with Trim. Because why overspend on internet, phone, and cable when you absolutely do not have to?
“Help me stop being poor!”
Here are the facts. The *only* way to save money is to spend less than you earn. There’s no way around it.
So what does this mean for you? It means you need to either decrease your expenses or increase your income.
We want to help you do both. Join our 6-day Savings-Account Accelerator Workshop. We’ll send you expense-lowering tools and techniques (and even a few tips on how to boost your income). These frugal-living hacks will help you accomplish the cardinal rule of personal finance: keep your income over your expenses.
When you can spend less than you earn, your money will grow. You will build your savings, pay down debt, and save for retirement.
Join our free 6-day Savings-Account Accelerator Workshop, and start growing your wealth today.
4. Rakuten – Cash Back on Amazon
The next time you check out from Amazon, here is what Rakuten will do for you:
- Rakuten will earn cash back on your order
- Rakuten will apply promo codes at checkout to save you money
- Rakuten will give you a $10 Welcome Bonus
Rakuten is a rebate finding machine. When you shop at one of Rakuten’s 2,500+ partnered retailers, that retailer pays Rakuten, and Rakuten shares that money with you.
Rakuten offers massive cash back. You’ll earn up to 40% at some stores. What’s more, Rakuten works automatically. Install the Rakuten Browser Extension so that Rakuten can earn you free money every time you shop online.
Oh yeah! Rakuten pays in cash. The free money you earn while shopping online with Rakuten will be delivered by check, straight to your door, every 3 months. Deposit that money to grow your emergency fund.
Setting up an account is not only free, but you will also receive a $10 Welcome Bonus the first time you earn cash back with Rakuten.
You will find many popular retailers on Rakuten including Target; Amazon; Walmart; Bed, Bath, and Beyond; and many more.
6. Wikibuy – Promo Codes For Amazon
Wikibuy is an internet browser extension that automatically applies promo codes to your online orders (such as at Amazon, Walmart.com, as well as 1,000+ other online retailers). It takes seconds to add to your browser, and from that point on, you save money without lifting a finger.
For example, when you’re checking out from Amazon, Wikibuy automatically tracks down a coupons to knock-down your price.
This browser extension saves you both time and money because Wikibuy does all of the bargain hunting for you. Add this money-saving gem to your arsenal to effortlessly keep more money in your pocket.
Grab Wikibuy here. Because why miss a free Amazon Promo-code when you don’t have to?
7. Empower – Money Management Made Simple
You don’t want to live on the bare minimum. But you do want to live below your means. Spend less than you earn, and your money will grow. A budget is a plan to spend less than you earn (i.e. it’s a plan to spend your money the right way). The only problem is keeping a budget.
Here are your options:
- You can review your bank and credit card statements from the last three months to create spending categories. Then you will need to track your expenses to ensure you do not overspend.
- Or you can try the Empower app, the smart budget solution.
Empower helps you bring mindfulness to your spending by generating monthly summaries of your spending. All you have to do is look at your report and tell Empower where you want to spend less.
When you set up your weekly or monthly spend limits, empower will notify you when your getting close to over-budgeting. Stay under budget – spend less than you earn – and your money will grow.
5. Get a Refund with Paribus
Don’t you hate it when you buy something and it goes on sale the following week? However, getting a refund for the price difference can be a hassle. This is where Paribus can help.
It acts as your personal shopping assistant, helping you get your money back on purchases when the price drops. It searches your inboxes for recent orders and tracks pricing changes. When it detects a price drop, it asks the retailers to refund you the difference.
Related Post: Paribus Review
*Paribus compensates us when you sign up for Paribus using the links provided.
Bonus Tip: Are you washing your hands more than normal? If you want to save money STOP using paper towels to dry your hands.
Instead, switch to hand towels and dish towels! You’ll *easily* save money plus you’ll eliminate the risk of running back out to the store.
Spend Less On Energy and Utilities
Another area where you can easily save money and live on less is on your utilities. Below are a few tips to get you started.
1. Lower Your Electric Bill Fast
Would you like to save on electricity? It’s actually very easy to do with ElectricityRates.com.
Here’s how it works: you probably have multiple power companies in your area, and naturally, they charge different rates. Simply switch to a different power provider offering a lower rate (no interruption of power/no decrease in quality) and you just lowered your electric bill forever.
Check out electricityrates.com, plug in your zip code, and find out for yourself if you found a very easy money-saving opportunity.
2. Get Energy Efficient Appliances & Products
When it comes time to replace your appliances, do the research and find energy efficient options. Replacing your appliances over time can significantly cut your energy bill!
If you’re not planning on replacing your fridge anytime soon, you may consider getting some energy efficient (aka money-saving) Amazon products. Here’s a couple of our favorites:
- Smart Plug– Automatically switches things off when not in use.
- Energy Efficient LED Light Bulbs– Save money on your electric bill by simply changing out your light bulbs
- Smart Thermostat– Homeowners save up to 23% annually on heating and cooling costs by making this *effortless* change
3. Cancel Cable TV
Cable or satellite TV can add up more than $100 to your monthly utility bills. The good news is that there are many cheaper alternatives such as YouTube TV, Sling TV, Netflix and Hulu (plans start as low as $5.99/month) that can help you cut that expense and still watch your favorite shows.
4. Insulate your home
If your home is not insulated well, you’re money is literally flying out of your doors and windows. Make sure your all frames around doors and windows are well insulated and fill in any cracks in your home’s exterior.
5. Use Less Electricity (turn off lights, unplug)
A quick way to save money on electricity is by using less. Turn off the lights when you leave a room and unplug appliances you’re not using such as your toaster oven. They draw energy even when they’re not in use, costing you money.
Save on Food
We all have to eat but it doesn’t need to cost a lot of money to eat well. You can eat well on less money with the help of a few quick tips and tricks. Here’s how to eat better than ever for a fraction of your current spending.
1. Plan Your Meals
Next to learning how to cook, meal planning is the best way to save money on food. Creating your own meal plan takes just a few minutes but can save you hundreds of dollars and lots of stress.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to create a meal plan from scratch every week, a service like $5 Meal Plan can be a life saver. For just $5 you get a monthly meal plan, including recipes and shopping lists. All recipes are tasty and cheap, costing less than $2 per serving.
2. Cook From Scratch
There is no way around it – cooking your own food will save you a lot over the long run. Learn how to cook and make your own meals. Most store bought foods are less healthy than what you can make at home and full or additives and sodium.
3. Shop with a list
An easy way to save money shopping is by making a list and sticking to it. Use your meal plan as a basis for what groceries you need to buy for the week. In addition, check your fridge and pantry to see if you’re out of any staples.
Make your shopping list based on what you need and bring it with you when you go shopping. Only buy what’s on your list so you can get better at planning out your shopping trips.
4. Use Coupons
Coupons can get a bad reputation but they are a great way to save money and live on less. However, instead of clipping coupons for things you think you may need, flip the idea on its head.
Make a list of what you need to buy and search for coupons that match up. This way you’re not spending money just to save a dollar or two on items you may not need. Also, before making an online purchase, do a quick search for coupons.
5. Plan Meals Around Sales
Here’s another tip that will save you hundreds this year: plan your meals around what’s on sale at your local grocery store. Check out the store circulars regularly and use the loss leaders (items on the first page) as the basis for your weekly meal plan.
Grocery stores put the items with the biggest discounts on the front page of their weekly sales circular in the hope of drawing people into the store to spend on other items. Stock up when you find a good deal and use that as the basis for your meals.
6. Buy What’s In Season
An easy way to live well on less is by eating in season. Instead of buying strawberries in December, why not try oranges or mandarins? Fruits and vegetables that are in season taste better and cost less.
7. Eat Less Meat
Meat can eat up a big chunk of your grocery budget. While you don’t have to go vegetarian, eating less meat will save you a lot of money and introduce you to new recipes and flavors. Try going meatless one day a week or plan one meal a day without meat.
The easiest way to cut meat is by starting with breakfast. Instead of bacon and eggs, try having just eggs, fruit and toast. Other options include oatmeal, yogurt with fruit or even avocado toast.
Related Post: How to Save Money on Groceries (without coupons)
Spend Less Than You Earn
If you’re looking for ways to spend less than you earn, you need to start with your paycheck. Lifestyle inflation will slowly eat away at your salary, making you feel you haven’t made financial progress even if you make a good salary.
1. Bank Your Raises
One of the easiest ways to spend less is to save your raises. Instead of adjusting your spending every time you get a bump in salary, use it to increase your savings. Set up a transfer to your savings account to match up with your paycheck or bump up your retirement contributions.
Over time, this can significantly increase your savings rate and you will barely notice the difference. The key is to whisk the money out of your account before you have a chance to spend it.
2. Stash Your Bonuses
Getting a bonus can make you feel flush with cash. More often than not, the money gets spent and you don’t even remember what you bought. Instead of spending all of your bonus, set aside 10 or 20 percent to spend as you want.
Use the rest of the money to fund important goals that align with your values. You can put the extra funds toward your retirement, in a vacation account if travel matters to you or toward a house or car down payment.
3. Save Your Refunds and Windfalls
Just like with a bonus, unexpected refunds or windfalls can feel like free money. It easy to blow through the cash and not know where the money went. Just like with a bonus, it’s important to put your money where your values lie.
Set aside some of the funds to use toward something fun. The rest should go into a savings account or use it to fund a bigger goal.
4. Set Up Automatic Withdrawals
If the money is in your checking account, it will get spent. The easiest way to save more money is to set up automatic withdrawals from your checking account to a savings account. Bonus points if the savings account is at a different bank.
Focus on spending only the money you have in your checking account. This will force you to get creative and prioritize your spending.
6. Try Using Cash
Studies show that charging your purchases on plastic causes you to spend more. That’s because you’re separated from the act of spending money until you see the charge on your statement.
Using cash can make you feel the pain of spending. The pain of handing over physical dollar bills can help you curb your spending.
7. Try Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are a great way to save money on anything from clothes to housewares and furniture. You can often find brand-new items with the tags still on for a fraction of the price of buying new.
Since most items in a thrift store come from donations, you never know what you will find. Before going online to buy something full price, check out the thrift stores in your area. You may be able to find the item you need or a comparable version for much less than retail.
Before heading out, check Craigslist and Facebook for yard sale listings in your area. There are also apps such as Yard Sale Treasure Map that help you find yard sales in your neighborhood and surrounding areas.
8. Check Out Yard sales
Another great place to buy stuff for cheap are yard and garage sales. Since people are looking to get rid of their stuff quickly, you can use this as an opportunity to get a better price. Yard sales are a great place to find children’s clothing and toys, bikes, housewares and much more.
9. Use a Cooling Off Period
Impulse purchases can cost you dearly over the long run. According to a survey by Slickdeals.net [source], people spend an average of $5,400 on impulse purchases every year. That’s a lot of money!
An easy way to stop shopping on impulse is to institute a waiting period before making a purchase over a certain amount. For example, waiting 72 hours before buying anything that costs more than $50.
This will help you overcome the excitement of buying something in the moment so you can consider the pros and cons of the purchase. More often than not, you’ll realise that you didn’t need it after all, saving you money.
10. Try a No-Spend Challenge
A no-spend challenge is a great way to kickstart your commitment to living on less. The way it works is that you commit to spending money only on the essentials for a dedicated period of time such as a month.
Doing a no-spend challenge can be difficult at first but as you get the hang of it, it gets easier. You may be surprised at how many times you pull out your wallet to make unnecessary purchases.
Use this as an opportunity to identify your spending problem areas and figure out lower cost alternatives or how to avoid the expense altogether.
11. Cut Back on Eating Out
Eating out can be a big drain on the budget, adding up to hundreds of dollars every month. While you don’t have to give up dining out completely, there are ways to do it smarter and still have fun.
Drinks can be very expensive when going out to eat. Instead of buying a drink, order water with your entree. Offer to split an entree with a friend or take half of it home to eat later as leftovers.
Focus your spending on opportunities to dining out with friends rather than on rushing through the drive through on the way home from work.
12. Six Hacks to Save Money Faster
Saving money is easy… once you know how to do it. If you’re living without the peace of mind of having lots of money in the bank…
… Then try our Free “Savings Account Accelerator” Workshop. It exercises 6 Money-Saving Hacks that not only teach you *how* to save money, but also how to save money faster than ever before. Don’t change your lifestyle to save money – use this free information to make saving money easy.
Spend Less on Entertainment
Having fun doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. There are ways to spend less and still have a good time. Here are several tips to get you started.
1. Invite Friends to Your Place
If your friends want to eat out or go for drinks regularly, the costs can add up quickly. Next time someone suggests going to eat, why don’t you invite them over to your place? You can host a potluck or go with a fun theme such as wine tasting and cheese.
Everyone can bring their favorite wine, cheese or snacks to share and you get to hang out for less.
2. Use the Library
The library can be a treasure trove for ways to save money on books, audiobooks, movies, and even your favorite TV show. Some libraries even offer free passes to local landmarks and museums. You can also find free classes on anything from pottery to genealogy.
3. Try Redbox
Redbox is a great way to watch recent movie releases for less than $2. They offer a good selection and there are usually several within a two-mile radius in most urban and suburban locations.
If you sign up for their email list, they often send discount codes that bring down the cost for a one-night movie rental to less than a $1. I’ve also had great success with just doing a quick Google search for coupons before renting a movie.
4. Watch What You Have
Many people forget that they have a big library of available movies at their disposal. Whether this is physical DVDs or Blu-ray discs or online movie purchases, just rewatching some of your favorites is a great way to get more out of your purchase.
5. Borrow from Friends and Family
Going off the previous tip, check out your family and friends’ movie libraries and ask them to borrow something you haven’t seen or would like to rewatch. This is a great way to expand your own library for free. Make sure to offer then some of your own movies or shows in exchange.
How Can I Live On Less Income?
The simple answer is by spending less than you earn. While this sounds easy in theory, it is difficult to do in practice. Emotions can get the best of you, causing you to spend money unnecessarily.
The best way to live on less income is to figure out your big why. When you align your spending with your values, spending less on everything else becomes easier. That’s because you’re putting your money toward the things that matter the most to you.
Figure out what you value the most such as family, friends, traveling, your health, and so on. These are your priorities and where you should spend your money. This can mean splurging for airline tickets to visit your family in a different state or spending more for organic food.
The key is to spend money on what matters to you and cut expenses in other areas. We all have access to a limited amount of money. Living on less income requires focusing most your spending on ways that align with your values.
The Bottom Line on Living with Less Money
Living on less money doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself. Being frugal allows you to align your spending with your values and put your money toward what matters most to you. Use the money you save to fund big goals such as a major purchase or an emergency fund.
Spending less gives you options and can provide you with a cushion if you experience a loss of income. You will sleep better at night knowing you have extra breathing room in your budget and
Alright, those are the easiest ways to spend less money (without feeling like it.
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Veneta Lusk is a family finance expert, freelance writer and blogger. After becoming debt free, she made it her mission to empower people to get smart about their finances. Her writing and financial expertise have been featured in notable publications like MSN Money, Go Banking Rates, The Penny Hoarder and Debt.com. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Follow her on Twitter @bcominglifesmrt or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/veneta-lusk-georgev-3300184/.